“We’re about to see a goddamned Beatle.” You couldn’t walk five feet without hearing at least one person utter that glowing refrain during night two of Bonnaroo around the What Stage (not that you could walk five feet; by nightfall, the 16-acre Manchester, Tennessee, farm was packed to the silo with 70,000 people). Paul McCartney was about to take the stage, and yes, he was a goddamned Beatle, as well as a goddamn Wing and goddamn one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songwriters of all-time. The man wrote “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” for goddamn sake.
And then we saw him, Mecca, looking a bit looser than in his Beatle days, but still youthful, forever The Cute One. For two and a half hours, he played classic after classic, everything from pumped versions of “Eight Days of Week,” “Helter Skelter,” and “All My Loving” to pyrotechnic power ballad “Live and Let Die” to loving tributes to George and John with “Something” and “Here Today” to the delicate “Yesterday” and “Blackbird,” where part of the stage he stood on rose 30 feet in the air, giving the people a half-mile away a sight line to him and his acoustic guitar.
It was a well thought out, well paced lively show, with the set list divided unevenly, though mercifully between a staggered amount of Beatles songs…and everything else. McCartney knows how to work his audience, whether through well-worn stories about the time Jimi Hendrix tried to get Eric Clapton to tune his guitar, or comments about the delectable smell of marijuana floating through the air, and while it would have come across as useless pandering coming from most, who are we to second guess Paul McCartney? He’s a goddamn Beatle; we’re not even a Ringo.
With that said, though we posted about our 14 favorite sets from Bonnaroo 2013 earlier today, we feel as though Sir Paul deserves some stand-alone recognition, so here ya go. All photos via Nadia Chaudhury.
Why yes, that is a stuffed walrus someone threw on stage.